Two independent pharmacies in central Vermont have been sold to the Kinney Drugs chain, the former owners announced. Montpelier Pharmacy will become a Kinney Drugs location on Oct. 15, and Waterbury Pharmacy will close its doors for good later that day, the three co-owners announced in a letter to customers.
In an interview Tuesday, co-owner Rich Harvie said much of the decision to sell the pharmacies had to do with his retirement.
“I wanted to retire and have been trying to do that for about a year,” he said, “but just couldn’t make it work.”
Harvie said Kinney Drugs showed an interest, and while he said he prefers independent pharmacies, Kinney seemed like a good fit.
“I’ve always thought, you know, Kinney’s is an all employee-owned chain, which I thought would be good for our employees,” he said. “They’re a small chain, so I think they really do a good job as far as pharmacy goes ... I would probably like to have had it remain independent, but I’m very pleased with what’s going to happen with Kinney’s.”
The decision to close Waterbury Pharmacy is partly due to its proximity to an existing Kinney Drugs location; all of the Waterbury Pharmacy employees will be offered jobs at the Waterbury Kinney Drugs location down the street.
Harvie said another factor was demand. He said Waterbury doesn’t have enough demand for two pharmacies, and that business at his store still hasn't fully bounced back from the hit it took after Tropical Storm Irene, which hit the state six years ago.
“The flood really hurt business there,” he said. “You know, the state employees are back [at the Waterbury State Office Complex] now, so that has helped a little bit, but it really had a negative impact on our business that continued for years.”
Harvie said the absence, until recently, of state employees working at the state office complex made business hard.
“We weren’t making any money there – not that we were losing money, we just weren’t making anything – so, you know, it was just more of a financial decision as far as the Waterbury store goes,” Harvie said.
With Waterbury Pharmacy closing, Harvie said the Kinney Drugs store down the street is likely to see a surge in business. That, along with expanded pharmacy services at Kinney Drugs’ Waterbury location, makes it possible for Kinney Drugs to absorb the staff of Waterbury Pharmacy.
Harvie said he considers himself lucky to have had the career he’s had as a pharmacist in Montpelier. He says he’s looking forward to his retirement, but the transition is bittersweet.
“I don’t miss working 60 hours a week,” he said, “but I certainly miss all the people that I’ve interacted with ... All the people I worked with are friends. Just about all the people that came in the front door of the pharmacy were friends, and I miss seeing them all.”
Update 4:06 p.m. This story was originally published with the headline Kinney Drugs Is Taking Over Two Independent Vermont Pharmacies. The headline has been updated to reflect specific locations.
Correction 4:56 p.m. The original version of this story named the wrong closing date for Waterbury Pharmacy. The story has been corrected.